On March 16, 2021, eight people were killed – six of them of East Asian descent – in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a tragic manifestation of the anti-Asian violence and sentiment that has been growing in North America during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Statistics show that:
- In the United States, discrimination against Asian Americans has grown by 149% compared to 2019
- In Canada, the Globe and Mail reports that in Vancouver, hate crimes targeting East Asians went up sevenfold from 2019 to 2020
- Data by Fight COVID Racism shows that 891 incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes have been reported as of March 17, 2021
- Police services across the country are reporting increased instances of hate crimes across Canada against East-Asian people
“Incidents of hate and violence against Asian Americans, Asian Canadians, and Asian people all over the world are truly appalling and must be stopped,” said Réjeanne Aimey P.Eng., President & Chair of OSPE. “It is so disheartening to see elitism continue to rear its ugly head while we’re facing a global pandemic that is already killing and separating us. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims of the attack in Atlanta.”
Canada has a long and deep-rooted history of anti-Asian racism. Through legislative decisions, such as the Federal Head Tax and the Federal Exclusion Act, Chinese Canadians were segregated socially, economically, and politically for decades. Since then, the Government of Canada has made significant strides to ensure that discrimination has no place in our country. However, recent experiences reported by Asian Canadians demonstrate that much work is yet to be done.
At OSPE, we have been working to ensure that the entire engineering community is diverse and inclusive of everyone through our Engineering for Change campaign. We recognize that systemic racism affects our engineering colleagues, friends, communities, and companies. Our industry and society are held back by it—this is not an abstract problem, but a tangible, day-to-day issue for our engineering community. We cannot be silent.
OSPE stands against any form of discrimination, and anti-Asian racism is no exception. We stand with the members of our community that have felt impacted by recent events, and encourage everyone in our network to check in on employees, students, colleagues, and friends, and find out what support they need during this time.
“We must stand up together as a society and condemn Asian hate and racism of any kind,” said Sandro Perruzza, CEO of OSPE. “This problem is systemic – it crosses all borders and industries, and it’s up to white and privileged people to do something about it. This isn’t the world we want to pass on to our children and grandchildren. We must take these moments to reflect on the progress we’ve made, but also recognize that there is much more work to do. It’s time to make real change, now.”